This beautiful Catalan locale has been a fixture on the EPT's schedule since Season 1, when Alex Kravchenko, Vanessa Rousso, Chad Brown and Noah Boeken, as well as former EPT champs Mark Teltscher, Glen Chorny, Jason Mercier and the aforementioned McDonald, plus a vast assortment of pros online and live, American and European.
It was a gong show, folks, and the action started early, with 20 players eliminated in the first two hours of action. Most of them were donkeys, but in the third level the pros started to feel the pinch as well, with a short-stacked David Ulliott among the first to go.
Following the Devilfish to the rail was 2007 WSOPE Main Event champ Annette Obrestad, who fell after calling off her stack with a gut-shot straight flush draw against a big-stacked opponent with only top pair. The Norwegian failed to hit on turn or river and was thus eliminated, consigned to the beach or the first flight to London, where she'll aim to defend her championship later this month.
Level 6 would mean the end for a trifecta of Team PokerStars pros, as Greg Raymer, Vicky Coren and Vanessa Rousso would all head for the exits as the evening wore into night. Raymer and Coren both lost races while short-stacked, but Rousso's demise would come after the Lady Maverick slow-played big slick/top pair, top kicker in a rather curious fashion, limp-calling from under the gun and ultimately falling to Doug "wcgrider" Polk's top two pair.
Slow play would also claim Full Tilt Poker's Erica Schoenberg, much to the collective dismay of the PokerListings news team. E-Scho bought it after limping with aces from early position and letting her opponent in the big blind flop two pair with Q-4 offsuit. Schoenberg would take it to the river but was dead in the water and bounced late on Day 1a.
Meanwhile, 2008 WSOP Main Event finalist David "Chino" Rheem and 2007 WSOP bracelet winner Michael Keiner were both rolling deep at the top of the chip leaderboard as the day progressed. Rheem, however, would watch his substantial stack disintegrate with a busted set of sevens forming the apex of his efforts. He'd go broke midway through the day's final level after running A-Q into pocket aces on a queen-high flop.
Keiner - who amassed most of his chips in an insane hand that saw three players (pocket kings, jacks and fives) shove in front of him while he held pocket aces (miraculously, they held) - would survive Day 1a. But he would lose ground from the nearly $70,000 he held at his personal high-water mark.
Keiner would be supplanted on top of the chip leaderboard by Michael Murra and Nichlas Mattsson, with Chad Brown, Ramzi Jelassi and Jason Mercier also in the running for the top dog position. (Full chip counts will be released before play begins tomorrow.)
Day 1b will commence at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EDT/6 a.m. PDT) and continue over another eight levels of fun. Expected to take part in the proceedings are Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Griffin, the bizarre conglomerate that is Isabario Mercinieri and Scotty Nguyen.